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'bidding features,' who is thus greeted by the sable youth :

"Aha! Captain Despo! pirate! murderer! has thy sin-laden soul driven you to the grave of your victims?"

"Blood and death! how know you this?" replies the gigantic ruffian. "Who are you?"

"One who has sworn to avenge the remains of those whose remains (sic) are gathered there," fiercely returns the youth.

"Fool!" hissed the pirate, quivering with rage, "your knowledge is your doom.":

Then follows a tremendous combat, on the usual tremendous scale, at which we can but glance. In another moment the giant had drawn a long gleaming stiletto, and showing his white fairy-like teeth, prepared to spring on his 'assailant, who revealed a formidable dagger,' &c. &c. Then follow panting breasts, deadly glances, flashing blades, sparks of fire; lithe, elastic forms, murderous thrusts, and gory wounds; frightful shrieks, and a ruffian form falling back ' into the horrible void!' The sable youth then mounts his coalblack steed, and 'dashes off towards the cries' below!

Meanwhile, on the high road close by is being enacted another tragedy as monstrous as the first. Hidden in the shade stands a stalwart man heavily armed-lost, it would seem, in a muttered soliloquy as to the fate of the Polenipper' family, and the ruffianly Black Tigers' to whom they fell a prey. As he thus muses, suddenly up dashes a gallant youth in sable on a coalblack steed. 'Paul Manley's' son and the redoubted Captain Raven are face to face. Each recognises the other; amazement and angry words ensue; Raven declares himself to be no other than the once charming Joanna;' and Manley, the furious avenger of his father's murderers, now resolved to capture the horsestealer at any cost. In vain she protests that she is madly in love with him; her love is rejected with scorn. Upon this she whistles, and in a trice a band of armed assassins start up, rush upon the hapless Manley, and butcher him before her eyes. (As any distracted heroine madly in love with the hero would naturally do.) At a second whistle, all disappear in the darkness, the heroic captain rides on her way, until she is suddenly surrounded by a fresh band of Preventive men, attacked, overpowered, and cast into a dungeon.

Here the jailer is Tim Wisp, the ostler; a plan of escape up the chimney is soon arranged, and as easily carried into

effect. The two rogues climb the chimney, but to their horror when they reach the ground are confronted by the giant form of Despo himself, alive and in the flesh. Combat the third begins, when at the very moment of his being knocked down with a bar of iron, up come the prison officials in hot pursuit, with presently a couple of mounted officers. The combat thickens, the brace of scoundrels escape, and all is now ready for the final tableau.

Despo and Raven the second (for it now seems there are two) are overtaken in a cave; more carnage follows, and the scene closes with a terrific explosion, which darkens the sky with a dense cloud of stones, sand, timber, and parts of 'human flesh.' Of course Despo and his rascally lieutenant both escape, but are no sooner out of the jaws of one death than they fall into fresh peril, being met in their headlong flight by Raven and Tim. After another torrent of carnage the Black Tiger falls mortally wounded, the false Raven escapes, and the veritable' Bird thus delivers herself to the astonished crowd:

""You well know, wretch, that I am Joanna Polenipper, whom you abducted from her home after murdering her parents; how I leaped into the sea to escape you; how I, having learned the death of my only friend, Paul Manley, stole a horse to reach London, to avoid your evil designs, and after having assumed male attire to avoid detection.": At this moment a wretched bloodstained figure is dragged into the group, and, with wild eyes glazing in death,' cries out, True, you are Joanna the horse-stealer, my companion in crime and iniquity.'

"I knew your doings, and feared you longed for vengeance. I taught her [sic] to use the name you had taken to hide our crimes and inflicting a terrible revenge upon you. She thought Joanna dead, and did not recognise in the female horse-stealer her own sister!!" In the midst of this mysterious ranta gush of blood came from the mouth of the evil creature, she falls across the 'pirate's body, her soul had fled!' Three lines of 'Moral' wind up this intolerable page of the Newgate Calendar.

'Joanna was transported for her crimes, retrieved her character in Australia, married a rich settler, and lived for many years respected and beloved by all who knew her.'

So much, then, for the exploits, crimes, virtues, infamies, and rewards of a woman who is held up for the delight and imitation of thousands of young children that have but a penny to spend on literature. We have analysed it at some length, that it may serve as a type of fifty other like worth

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less compilations, such as The Wizard of the Ocean,' The Demon's Bride,' The Pirates' Haunt,' Jack o' the Mountain,' and 'The Captain of Death.'* The scene may be cast in any part of the known world, and in any century from William the Norman to Victoria, but everywhere alike will be found the same farrago of bombast, sham heroics, shameless villany, and scorn of goodness. Not only is the picture false throughout, but intentionally false; and mischievously poisonous. It may be complete in a single dose, as in 'Joanna;' or extend ad infinitum through weekly parts, as in "The Wide-awake Library,' 'The Haunted Leg, The Mysterious Island Robber,' Joe Smith in Japan;' but 'rotten' is the one adjective which best describes the whole series from first to last.

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But we must turn now to the type of another class of print, equally mischievous, and equally vicious in style, though here and there marked by touches of a more practised hand, as far as the niceties of grammar are concerned. It is entitled 'Perdition's Paradise,' and in a single pennyworth of small print tells the wretched story of a young girl's ruin and death. This is achieved in the coarsest, plainest words, with all the hideous details of drink, debauchery, and fast life, such as might possibly have served to season the hideous revelation which last year startled and disgusted the whole land under the title of The Maiden Tribute.' We trace the unhappy girl from her first appearance at a music hall, onward through a swift career of open vice, under the protection of a hoary sinner such as Mr. Stead would have rejoiced to pounce on, expose, and crucify. Step by step she sinks through each lower and baser stage of profligacy, down to the final scene of her murder by a starving tramp, who turns out to be her own father. Every page radiates with an atmosphere of abandoned crime, and is smeared with swift poison for the mind of any young girl fresh from school and eager for a morsel of amusing fiction.

Next comes 'The History of a Crime'† (pace Victor Hugo), of the high-faluting order, intended we suppose to give one a glimpse of the iniquities of the Upper Ten, told in thirtytwo pages of small print, and adorned with two grim, but startling woodcuts. Of this dainty production a brief sketch

* Many of these command, it is said, a weekly sale of from ten or twelve to fifty or sixty thousand; and each copy may serve a dozen readers.

† Pocket Novelette Series.

must suffice; and it shall be as far as possible in the author's own choice words. Mr. Launcelot is a gentleman of 10,0001. a year, residing in the loveliest villa of Kilburn. He is a widower, and his only son Fred' is just finishing his education under a Reverend gent' at Harrow, when he suddenly receives a letter that seemed to him as the bursting of a mighty thunder-clap.' It is to bid him ask his tutor for 'leave home at once,' to be present at his father's marriage. "It is true," says papa, "that my future wife is only a governess, and has no relatives, but that is a matter of no importance."

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On the receipt of this thunder-clap,' Fred, having ejaculated Impossible!' sinks into the nearest seat. As he there sits groaning, enters to him Harry Glyn, a fellow pupil, who, at first incredulous, but at length convinced, of his friend's peril, at last exclaims, more puerorum :—

"Well, I'm blest! well, I'm hanged! well, I'm hem! if that doesn't bang Bana gan [sic], it's a joke!

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But the jocular theory proving untenable, the two boys consult the tutor, obtain leave, and start at once for Kilburn, which they reach at 10 P.M. The villa was all ablaze with light and thronged with guests, when the two dashed into the room, where some fifty had assembled, and were introduced to the company.

"She will be here in a moment," whispers the host, "and you will like her and love her for my sake, and my marriage will make no difference," &c., &c. "But here is Miss Somerville herself,”'

as a young lady of ravishing beauty came through the doorway, superbly dressed in creamcoloured satin, with eyes large, black, piercing, and long silky eyelashes.

"My beloved son Frederic," says papa; "Frederic, your future mother!" 9

Glyn also is introduced; but at the sound of his name the lady turns pale, recovers herself, and then welcomes the stranger in sweetest tones. Harry retires at once with his father; Glyn wanders off, after the wont of gentlemen of fashion, at 11 P.M., 'to have a look at the stables' (as he 'hates indoors'); on his way back loses himself in the shrubbery, and hides behind a clump of rose-trees just as a mysterious figure in white advances to meet a dark form emerging from the shadow. A dialogue ensues between these two-a nocturnal pedlar and a lady—which Harry overhears, the lady being no other than the 'beauty in creamy 'satin,' who thus opens the conference :

""Could you not have waited for a week, until I was mistress here?' &c. "Blackguard, I wish you were dead." "If I'm a blackguard, what are you?

The colloquy ends, as the reader may guess, in a demand for money, and, that given, ends abruptly; the pedlar vanishes, and the lady returns to the house, which, as she says, she ought never to have left.' And we are bound to add that it is not the usual custom for ladies of fashion to hold conferences with pedlars at 11 P.M. in the shrubbery even of a friend's house. But we must hurry on. Harry has overheard the pedlar's name -Timothy Wym (kindly revealed by the owner himself); has a private interview with Fred; informs him that Miss Somerville is an impostor, once in his father's service, but dismissed for theft! she, at that identical moment, chancing to be on the stairs outside his door, and overhearing all that is said.

What tale she told to Mr. Launcelot is not known, but that night, when she left his house, she was 2001. richer than when she entered it; starting at once in a cab for Fell Street, Edgware Road. Here she makes her way up into a room at a tramps' lodging-house, where a couple of drunken ruffians, Wym and Smith, are playing cards. She declares that the game is all up,' unless the two kids are at once despatched.' Smith undertakes the job of murdering them, and receives a cheque for 2007. on account.

And now events rush on at giant speed. Mr. Launcelot the next morning receives a note asking help for an old servant in distress at Tricket's Yard, Paddington, and despatches his son in a cab, 'with a pound or two in his pocket,' to help the dying woman. All that follows is so simple and so natural as to be easily guessed. Fred is enticed into the den of the two ruffians, one armed with a knife, and the other with the poker, and is on the point of being butchered, when, at the nick of time, in dashes Harry with a loaded revolver, forces the robbers to open the door (why?); in walks a detective with four constables, and the scene closes at the police station. That night is an awful night at 'The Firs.' The inspector submits to Mr. Launcelot a photographic likeness of Miss Somerville, alias Mrs. Wym, in prison attire, and announces that her husband is in custody on a charge of murder. The lady at once swallows poison; Timothy gets twenty years' penal servitude; and Mr. Launcelot dies a widower.

Of such trash as this it is impossible to exaggerate the worthlessness, both as regards style of composition and moral

VOL. CLXV. NO. CCCXXXVII.

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